In today’s gospel reading Jesus gives us the commandment to “love one another.” Jesus asks us to follow in the mission of his life, that as he followed God, let us follow him, and that in this following we will be changed.
Jesus said that through abiding in the love of God “my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” Sitting in my room right now, the room 90% of my life has been based out of for over a month now, a promise of complete joy is appealing, yet it feels so idealistic and out of reach. Joy is such a strong word, it is more fulfilling and all-encompassing than happiness, it is a pulse of trust and pleasure in the Divine. I am struggling to find that pulse right now.
Jesus pronounces us his beloved friends in this text and says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I am thinking about this message, and about my life. Looking at the social distancing world of today, you could argue that we are all laying down our lives for our friends. It is a practice of sacrificial love to stop the regular flow of our lives, to connect through the internet, or a minimum of 6 feet apart, to protect the lives of the people around us. Jesus sacrificed his living, breathing, life to love his friends; we are being asked to sacrifice our human-to-human physical contact ordinary lives for the love of our friends and for the love of humanity.
I find encouragement in the thought and the reality of millions of people around the world acting in love, but I will still admit the complete joy of Jesus’s promise is hard for me to grasp. I want my joy to include human contact, steady employment, and class at Seattle University right now, but the joy Jesus promised is one of love beyond my definition. Instead, this promised joy abides in the loving wholeness of the divine sacrifice and preservation of human life. I pray I can be open to this complete joy today.
Meghan McCreedy, Class of 2021